More of old Hawaii found among my mother’s papers. She recorded these childhood memories in April 2009, a month before her 95th birthday. She left a couple of different versions, which I’ve combined.
My mother, Heleualani Cathcart, and her sister, Helen, were brought up at St. Andrew’s Priory in Honolulu with two sisters, Alice and Emma Nahaolelua. Their mother, Mrs. Kia Nahaolelua, was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Liliuokalani and appears in a photograph in Liliuokalani’s book, “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen.” The photo is reprinted here (above).
The two sets of sisters grew up together at the Priory, where they lived all year round under the supervision of the English Sisters, Beatrice and Albertina.
They remained lifelong friends, their families intertwined, and are buried in adjacent plots in Nuuanu Memorial Park, across the street from Oahu Cemetery.
I grew up believing Aunty Alice and Aunty Emma were my blood relatives. I also felt close to their husbands, Eugene Bal Dunn, who married Emma, and John C. Lane, who married Alice. Lane had participated in the attempted Royalist “counter-revolution” of 1895 along with Prince Jonah Kuhio and others, and later served as the elected mayor of Honolulu from 1915 to 1917.
I remember Uncle John C. as a tall, slender, handsome man with a definite charm about him.
Uncle John Lane and my mother discussed a possible family relationship because his mother’s name was Kahooilimoku, which was also the name of my mother’s grandfather. Names meant a lot to Hawaiians, and certain names “belonged” to a family. Perhaps they commemorated an important event, or memorialized an ancestor, or were bestowed upon a newborn infant by an older beloved relative or close friend. Lane and my grandmother didn’t really pursue the matter and it was finally forgotten, but I feel there may have been a direct connection between the families in an earlier generation, which would explain the strong family bond.
My memories go back a long way to the years between 1917 and 1920, when the Lanes lived in Waikiki. We lived in the country and when my mother had errands or business to attend to in Honolulu, my sister and I visited Auntie Alice. Her home was a one-story dark green house in the midst of a small forest of bushes and trees where Kapahulu Avenue hits Kalakaua, opposite the zoo.
Our days in Waikiki were always filled with exciting experiences. Across the street on the edge of Kapiolani Park was a small stream bordered by date palms. Usually it had only a few inches of water where we caught opai and tadpoles.
We spent a great deal of time at the beach at the home of Prince Jonah Kuhio, who was nearly always away in Washington, D.C. as Hawaii’s Delegate to Congress. John Lane and Kuhio were imprisoned together for several months for participating in the attempted Royalist uprising against the Provisional Government following the 1893 overthrow of the Queen, and the families remained close. As a result, Alice Lane had access to Kuhio’s home, which stood right on the water’s edge at what is now called Kuhio Beach.
We knew when the Prince was away in Washington because the furniture was covered with white sheets. I was always intrigued by the covered furniture and numerous Hawaiian artifacts: calabashes, poi boards, stones, etc. We spent our time on the open lanai which was a large platform extending out over the water and enclosed with a lava rock wall. There was a spreading hau tree shading part of the lanai. Under the tree was the most fascinating object, a large canon (sic)! Besides swimming, our favorite pastime was climbing on the canon and pretending to ride a horse. This is one of the most vivid and lasting memories of my early childhood, but no one else that I questioned in later years seemed to know about the canon.
Kuhio did return home from time to time. His wife, Kahanu, had some connection to my grandmother’s family, so there was much hugging when we met. I remember him shaking my hand and wishing me a happy day as we played on the lava rock lanai at his home on the beach. He held my hand and smiled. I have a mental picture of a young looking man, perhaps middle age, of normal build, not tall and husky like so many other Hawaiian men of the day. He was soft spoken with a friendly voice. His pleasant smile implied he was a friend.
The Prince died when I was about 7 years old.
Helen Yonge Lind
Article courtesy of ‘I Lind’. www.iLind.net
Shared for historical purposes with the rights belonging to the author, duly noted above.